tv This Week in Defense CBS November 7, 2010 11:00am-11:30am EST
next on this week in defense news, our round table discusses welcome to this week in defense news. i'm vago muradian. the republicans historic landslide victory just didn't give the g.o.p. the control of the house, it swept democrats from office. ike excepton lost his re- election bid. so did john sprat and gene taylor and virtually all of the democratic committee lost their seats as well. and there is a bumpy road ahead. joining me to figure out what
this means for the 2011 defense budget is rick maze from the military times newspapers, jim michaels from usa today and author of a chance in hell. mackenzie earringland from the heritage foundation and gordon adams of the american center who was the defense budget chief during the clinton administration. gentlemen and lady, welcome to the program. rick, let's start with you. what does this historic shift mean for the defense and spending in the years ahead? >> i don't think it does anything to help the 2011 budget. it's been gridlocked the senate because they haven't been able to get through parliamentary endeavors. there will be one try to bring the bill up before the end of the year and if they fail to reach an agreement, they won't make another try of it. what i've heard from both committees from democrats and republicans is it's a one-shot deal and if it works, it does. and if it doesn't they'll put it off until another year.
>> so that means they'll go on to a continuing resolution. >> we don't know how long it would last, whether it would be short until it gets them into the new administration or give up an authorization bill. >> there is an omnibus bill pending, it hasn't been dropped, but it's been conferenced. it might provide for the full year if they decide they want to move ahead in the lame duck but it's not clear if they do. >> and there is don't ask and don't tell and abortion treatment at military health care centers. >> if you listen to what it takes to get the bill done, the republicans said we'll get the bill done if obama drops "don't ask, don't tell." >> my guess is you're going to get some kind of a money bill and it may be short-term or revisited in february or a year through on the money. >> and i'm not sure that a short-term bill was even
possible because you have a lot of obstructionists who are worried about rules and spending big money and i think even getting a short-term spending bill through the senate before christmas is difficult. >> which is the shift toward the appropriators. but mackenzie let's go over to you. what does the change mean in term of the republican leadership that we'll see coming in and what are the top priorities going to be? >> well it really elevates the role of paul ryan of the budget committee because that will set the tone for defense for the rest of the year. will republicans and conservatives differentiate themselves from the president and the trajectory he's laidout in the defense plan but also his 10-year budget plan. do they want to offer a higher baseline -- >> the contingency funding. >> yes. and mr. ryan sets the tone for what mr. mckeon and --
>> that's right. because the ranking member of the armed services chitty is to take over as chairman there and it's widely expecting that bill young will take over the house appropriations defense panel where he has a very good working relationship with democrats. >> and where he's been chairman before. >> but he's still recovering from surgery so you're going to see mr. free ling move into a leadership role for mr. young. but mr. ryan basically determines the top line, that what is authorizations has to be worked with. >> and folks say this is going to port end well for the pentagon. do you see it that way at all? >> i see it both ways. there are those that argue that but there is no question there is so much pressure to reduce debt and they have to look everywhere. so i think there is going to be a lot of jockeying but i think they'll have to look at parts of the defense budget. there is no question about it. >> does that all kick in when
the deficit -- the earthkin bowls and alan simpson panel reports out. >> there's a recision package right now by the future house leadership to cut the 2,010- dollar level and they are literally going through every budget in every federal program so defense could be on the table. >> there is a trial to go back to the 2008. but you are going to have a lot of things converge. you will have the commission report, the reflin panel report and those coming down in the next six weeks and a whole bunch of people coming from the conservative side who are not a slam dunk for higher levels of defense spending so the politics are going to kick in in realtime next year. >> and when you talk about freezing discretionary spending and there are republicans that thinks defense should be part
of that. >> and even now there are a lot of people more conservative. >> so any increase in defense may not happen even in the best of times. >> you have people on the republican side like tom coburn is who has been on the president's panel and vigorous on savings, he has a lot of the new republicans and not just rand paul that are on that kick. >> what happens on the democrat side. this is a destination on the democrat side in terms of defense leadership. who will take over leadership positions in this new congress? >> it's hard to know what is going to emerge as a leader. you have lost reyes, sprat, taylor and you have some people like reyes and smith who might be able to step in on some of this. they don't have the same clout in congress. norm dixon's position is very appropriate because he's now the most senior person in the defense arena for the democrats. >> in the arms services
committee, you're looking at people from the class of 1997 who are going to be the most senior people there and that is really not people with very much clout in terms of the house. so the democratic leadership is looking around to see if they can find somebody else in the house who has some defense related experience maybe from the foreign relations committee with more seniority who can come in and be a leader. >> and there has been this tradition of bipartisanship and sort of consensus on these committees and it's really remaining to be seen what will happen to that in the future. >> i think the politics that you would normally expect inside the defense universe, the defense appropriators, the authorizers, a lot of that will not look different. it might be more ideological. you'll have issues of missile defense or "don't ask, don't tell" and that wouldn't appeared but the debate is
about debts, deficit, spending control, smaller government and that theme resonates across the congress. >> unlike the senate, the minority in the house lacks a lot of power. they are largely irrelevant as the republicans have found out. the majority sets the agenda, a witness list. they can no-notice things. but what you are going to see, bottom line, best case scenario is secretary gates will grow 1% the budget and as far as gridlock and whether we'll see legislation move it starts at the top and we don't know if mrs. pelosi will hang on or not. mr. hour has shown he can work across the aisle. >> i think 1% is the best case but i don't think it's the likely case any more. deborah norville.
we're back with our round table. mackenzie, i want to go to you. republicans are promising a series of hearings to look at whether the obama administration has been handling the war in afghanistan. what are we likely to find at those hearings. >> the incoming chairman is indicating an aggressive over sight agenda and follow the procedures. and of course the arbitrary political timetable for withdraw. and this will spill into
december and the president's review. but following that there will be the strategic foundation for the u.s.-iraq relationship going forward. are we going to [ inaudible ] because that would be considered a failure and then you have detainees, gitmo, the potential extension of the patriot act permanently and the goal of 2-3% growth for modernization and see a focus on asia-pacific, homeland security and missile security. this is the agenda for the year. >> let's go over to afghanistan. there is a big review coming out in december. the president ruled that out when he ruled out his afghanistan strategy. what impact will that have? >> they'll have passing grades, show some progress, not permanent yet but made progress with the troop surge. they have about 100,000 u.s. troops. so i think in december there will be tweaking around the edges but they'll get passing grades. then we'll be looking forward
to the july 2011 deadline. and there is a lot of adjectives surrounding that. republicans are saying that it's confused our allies and emboldened our enemies. but the trick is -- >> well if you talk to afghans they will tell you that their concerned by a 2011 date given that they are still stuck with the taliban. >> absolutely. and of course the administration said that's just the start of a process. they're not going from 100,000 to zero in july but that's created agitation over there. >> lindsey graham, john mccain and some democrat members have sort of questioned that withdrawal date. is that going to change? >> i don't think it will change. and i'll tell you why. >> or the start of the process? >> i think the process may be very minimal at that point but i think it will start. and i think the major reason that it will start is because despite a very inside the beltway struck to the tone of
the discussion so far, outside of the country and many new members come into washington, there are issues they want to deal with are the size of the government, the deficit, the debt, jobs, health care there is a whole agenda that ranks in any polling that has been done of the members or of the public higher than anybody's concern about iraq and afghanistan. >> and that wasn't an issue. >> but you have to remember that iraq and afghanistan at this time are not majority approved wars. >> if things get bad in either of those places it will become a top issue. >> i don't think that's right. i disagree. >> i don't think you'll see troop level increases in afghanistan. they know it's an unpopular effort no matter what happens at best and we'll be concentrating on let's look at capability, has this administration denied resources that are needed to carry out the mission and maybe that will have some implications.
but you won't see them say we need 40,000 more troops or 10,000 more troops or 5,000 more troops because that's unpopular and it makes them responsible. >> but everybody is talking about iraq as though it's an operation ending in 2011. state department in its own audit said we can't do our job in iraq without troop presence and the situation is degrading. some are saying we shouldn't bail out too early and cause a disaster. could u.s. troops end up staying in iraq longer than anticipated. >> possibly. will there be a drawn down close to -- >> i have personally anticipated they're going to be there permanently so it's not longer than i think. talk about political gridlock, they don't have a government there. >> seven months and counting. >> and so a lot of that will play into this. i do think though once they do get a government and there is some confidence over there,
they may in fact take another look at that strategic framework agreement and request some level of u.s. troops there. i think we can easily see that in the future. >> but that is a fundament savings notion that everybody has already calculated into their plans whether they are democrat or republican. >> i'll tell you there are 5,000 people and if there are more than 5,000 i'll be surprised. >> there is this whole question about whether or not the defense budget should have contingency funding separated. what is the outlook for the future in terms of what the overall defense budget will look like or components it will include? >> the republicans who are taking control of the house have had focus groups that talked about that issue because they are trying to say what can we do in terms of the budget that makes people think we're doing the right thing? and they've discovered any reduction they make in contingency funds is considered by many people in the military as a cut in defense. so they face a problem just coming in the door the first
day because they have to cut defense. when the troop levels come down in those countries, they're going to reduce the defense budget and they'll have people unhappy, i was talking this morning with somebody in the p.r. business on our focus group and last month they were focusing on the budget. the single one biggest target for cuts is defense. >> we'll be
welcome back to this week in defense news and our round table with rick maze of the military times, jim michaels of usa today, mackenzie earringland and gordon adams. let's start off with the pentagon's drive to save money. buck mckeon, the chairman to be, has already said we're not going to carry programs on the back of military people. we're not going to cut pay benefits and those kind of things to under write weapons.
at the same time there is a large modernization agenda that people want to tend to and at the same time the republican leadership is saying we'll make sure we will fund these programs. how do the two things exist in this universe, gordon? >> the way you get efficiencies in the federal department is by cutting the budget. you don't get it by finding the efficiencies and then cutting the budget. it doesn't work that way. >> you are a critic of the administration's drive to get the $100 billion? >> i don't think they will find it. they will find it by taking it out of the top line and the top line is probably going down and when it goes down it is also procurement first and structure second and that's where you get the savings. >> mackenzie. >> that would be smart because that is where the real money is. we've been cutting from the procurement now. and the sievan -- civilian pieces are the right answer. they need to show accountability to the american people that defense is also
doing it's part. >> i'm with gordon here, i think that efficiency cuts are just nonsense. that you never actually see them materialized. they say we're going to save blank billion by efficiencies and it never happens. unless you take something away, you don't save the money. and the whole idea is with gates we're going to cut the money from one program and then send it to another. >> but a number of military folks say the biggest issue is pay personnel and benefit and how you strike the balance of compensating military folks and not breaking the compact with them, especially in war time, while looking at long-term issues which are growing, for example military health care. republicans say they were suited to tackle this issue because they are strong on defense earlier in the year. now folks are less interested. are we going to be touching this third real issue? >> health care is going to be a huge issue. by 2015 the costs are rising to
10% of the overall defense budget. they haven't had an increase in premium since 1995. so it's really a vulnerable area but a very emotional one and how you cast that debate is really critical. >> it's not going to happen. neither party will touch it on their own and the only way you could do something about it is if they both jointly said we will cut this. the last time there was a divided congress with democrats in charge of one side and republicans in charge of the other. they didn't cut anything. they were having a contest to see who could raise benefits the most. they want all to be the guys giving them something. >> it's been known for years in the quadrennial review for years has been saying what needs to happen with retirement and especially pays and bonuses and health care costs and nobody has the courage to take it on. >> we have about a minute less. britain just did their strategic defense review where they prioritize their defense needs and took some hard
decisions. is the united states going to have to do that in the next couple of years? >> i think they are and we are. it's a smart process that the british undertook and we normally pay lip service so that, but the problem is our obligations are so far beyond iraq to yemen and others. >> we're going to have to prioritize missions. the qdr did not prioritize and if we are going to discipline defense spending now we'll have to set priority missions. >> i i would say they have done the defense review and shifting the pendulum for the wars we are in today and dropping off on modernization due to the fact they've made those choices. >> that's all of the
taylor, all of whom work well with their republican counterparts. the bright spot is the defense appropriations where they have a model relationship. and they intend to styme the president's agenda and portray him as week and irresponsibility on defense. it's not a recipe for bipartisan defense. defense isn't immune from politics. but with pressing unresolved issues already at hand, no defense budget bill for 2011, critical personal, acquisition and other issues pending and future resources, this isn't the time for naked partisanship. republican leaders have the chance to get this right but they must show leadership and bipartisanship or they will fail just like the democrats did before them. thank you for joining us us thank you for joining us us this week in this [ female announcer ] why is travel these days
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